Shocking Video of the Manhattan Bridge “Battleground”

Before we get to the recap of today’s live chat about bike lanes on the Daily News’s Daily Politics blog, let’s rewind a little further. Yesterday morning Alex Nazaryan, a member of the Daily News editorial board, joined me, Doug Gordon from Brooklyn Spoke, and a few other cyclists for a bike commute over the Manhattan Bridge. The Daily News had run a piece the previous Friday calling cyclists “illiterate, blind, or merely — this is our guess — oblivious to all man-made law,” and I wanted to show someone from the paper that the vast majority of cyclists were following the correct detour route.

Alex was cordial throughout the trip, and at the beginning of our commute even told me that he thinks a separated bike lane would work well on Vanderbilt Avenue in Prospect Heights. At the foot of the bridge on the Manhattan side, we observed, conservatively, at least 90 percent of cyclists choosing the detour route they were supposed to take.

This morning, the paper referred to this trip as “a return… to the Manhattan Bridge battleground between bicyclists and pedestrians.”

Here’s Doug’s video of the ride across the so-called “battleground” on the south side of the bridge. Try to stay awake:

Alex and the Daily News attributed this law-abiding behavior, bizarrely, to intervention straight from the transportation commissioner:

The morning’s drizzle held down the number of foot and pedal partisans, and the Department of Transportation further dampened the skirmishing by deploying hard-hatted peacekeepers to separate the warring factions.

Forewarned that we were mounting a reconnaissance mission, Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan dispatched forces.

As Doug points out…

…contractors from Skanska/Koch can often be found standing by the bike ramp on the Brooklyn side.  They are also found on the Manhattan side during many evening rush hours.  Sometimes they direct cyclists the detour and sometimes they’re just standing around having a smoke.  This is something I explained to Alex when I met him yesterday morning after we saw two men in reflective vests and hard hats standing by the barriers on the north side.  Teresa Toro, the community liaison for the bridge project, mentioned that perhaps DOT should send more people than just the two we saw there yesterday morning since human interaction is more effective than signs and plastic barriers in getting people to comply with rules.

Alex and I were at the foot of the bridge for a solid 20 minutes before we headed over to Manhattan. He could have asked these guys at any time what the deal is and whether workers are usually stationed there. I guess that’s not how the Daily News editorial board handles the task of gathering information.


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